Friday, December 21
1. Strengthen citizen participation in our political economy. Enact legislation that mandates publicly-financed public elections and broad reforms of the electoral process so that votes count far more than dollars.
Maybe it's not campaign finance reform as currently conceived, but we need something.
#s 2 and 5: Why can't we make more of a dent in poverty? Many Western democracies have done so. It means they're not the only remaining superpower, but is that necessary or desirable compared to raising the standard of living for everyone? I, for one, would be willing to give up some power and money to even things out in this regard, or, if you will, to raise the standard for the poorest people.
3. Issue environmental protection standards to systematically reduce global warming, and other damaging environmental toxics and promote sustainable technologies.
#4: Why can't we improve national healthcare? Why can't more people have basic health insurance?
#6: Why can't our national security policy mirror such concerns by focusing on helping other nations and engendering good will instead of resentment at unilateral action?
#7: Do we want cheap goods and services at any price? Are we willing to build on the back of cheap Latino labor, both at home and abroad? Or can we reconceive fair and free trade?
#8: Does our legal system work the way we want it to? Does it promote justice? Do prisons reform, or just incarcerate? Is reform possible? If so, how?
9. Defend and strengthen civil rights and the civil justice system, apply criminal laws against corporate crime, and fully prosecute consumer fraud and abuses. Expand consumer, worker and children's health, safety and economic rights.
10. Strengthen investor-shareholder rights, remedies and authority over managers and officers and boards of directors so that those who own the companies also control them. End the massive corporate welfare schemes that distort and misallocate public budgets. Reintroduce the historic function of corporate chartering as an operating instrument of insuring corporate accountability and the sovereignty of the people.
What do you think?
It was wonderful. It really was. It stands on its own as a work inspired by the book.
However, to the purist, it must be regarded as separate from the book. It is not a faithful rendition of Tolkien's story. Surely it is not meant to be. I can understand that. Peter Jackson gets to take some liberties. He had to do what he could commit to and what he thought would sell.
But a lot of people are going overboard in their gushing.
I did a quick scan of the Daypop links for the website, and it seemed to me like a lot of people who gushed about it said things like 'I haven't read the books since sixth grade.' This is indicative of the distinction.
I don't think of Roger Ebert as an authority, but he got it right when he said "A true visualization of Tolkien's Middle-earth it is not." (via The One Ring).
Wednesday, December 19
Here's my first review:
I'm a Tolkien purist, as you know, so there are a lot of things I could pick out that I didn't like as well as the original. But I'm going to wait on those things, at least for a while. I'll start by talking about some of the many things Peter Jackson did well (this requires discipline for me. I naturally go to criticism. But I think this is worth it. I want to enjoy it for what it is.)
Note: no spoilers.
First of all, let me just say, if you have thought about reading the book before you see the movie, or have even started it, you should finish it first. The movie is different enough from the book that I, for one, would certainly want you to be exposed to Tolkien's original first.
Second, I'm certainly planning on seeing it again. It was very good and there's so much to see and take in. The vistas and action scenes, especially, demand repeated viewing. Christine expressed it well: We wished we could stop and look around more, but we had to move faster than that. Guess that's what the DVD is for.
There is a lot of really good acting. Ian McKellan (Gandalf), Hugo Weaving (Elrond), Ian Holm (Bilbo), and Sean Bean (Boromir) stand out to me as nearly flawless. Elijah Wood does a credible job, and maybe even better, as the protagonist, Frodo. Christopher Lee (Saruman) had really great moments (and probably acted his direction exceptionally).
Peter Jackson can obviously do great effects. The lidless eye and the world seen by the wearer of the ring were very well done.
The action scenes were awesome, with Legolas coming off as the coolest by far.
If you care to check it out, the Salon review calls it 'the movie of the year' (warning: infernal pop-up ads).
Secondarily: a lot of the previews really sucked. However, Tom Cruise's 'Minority Report' looked cool, and the 'Spider Man' preview was thrilling and sold me.
Tuesday, December 18
Consumers will get customized products - like selected songs on a burn-your-own-cd. Right, and good.
Napster-like services are the future - Gnutella and TiVo. Right, and good.
This will further the 'Balkanization' of our popular culture, without cultural icons than cut across subcultures, like Michael Jackson did in the 80s.
Now, draw your own conclusions.
Plus, commentary over on the Filter.
Now I know my Santa might have purchased the gift and it just didn't register on Amazon. We'll see.
In some ways, it doesn't matter, because my friend, Joyce, unexpectedly got me Shakespeare's Complete Works off of my wishlist, and that's a lot more that the Secret Santa 15$ limit.
My idea for next year is to do online Secret Santa, but maybe more as a cohort - maybe set up a Yahoo Groups list and then I'd do the assignments or something. I'd run it off of my site. Maybe other could pick it up. It might be fun to have a little more of a known group do it, especially if you figure Thinkblanks site will be even bigger next year. Who knows, maybe I'll do both. It was fun to get to know Erin and to gift her. Maybe Thinkblank could add this kind of functionality - the ability to do Secret Santa subgroups.
(and she's where I got that 80s music link, which ended up being pretty indicting. Little did I know that she was one of the first people to link it. I just assumed it was going around. But she picked it up from the author and he later analyzed the traffic flow. So I was trying to be all secretive and stuff, but she probably knew what was coming anyway.)
Anyway, Erin seems pretty cool: Irish, a standup comic, artist, educator. Check out her site.
Monday, December 17
The electron is the thing that’s wiggling, and the wave is the electron. It is its own medium.
The quantum world isn't necessarily microscopic, it's just different.
A 'photon' is not a particle but a field described by a wave function of the interaction of two atoms.
The quantum world is a world of waves, not particles. So we have to think of electron waves and proton waves and so on. Matter is “incoherent” when all its waves have a different wavelength, implying a different momentum. On the other hand, if you take a pure quantum system—the electrons in a superconducting magnet, or the atoms in a laser—they are all in phase with one another, and they demonstrate the wave nature of matter on a large scale. Then you can see quite visibly what matter is down at its heart.
The problem with reconciling gravitation and quantum mechanics comes from viewing matter as made up of point particles.
Quantum orthodoxy has led us to wrong conclusions about the fundamental nature of reality.
I'd really like some diagrams to go along with this. Maybe I need to get Mead's book.
I'm no physicist, but this stuff makes sense to me intuitively as plausible explanations. I like this guy's reasoning.
You especially might want to read his lengthy discussion of the problems of foreign aid to developing countries. Steven makes a good case against much of foreign aid, and for debt relief. Another item on the liberal agenda is probably worth considering too: reform of Western involvement. Our corporations and institutions like the World Bank have some pretty shady involvement in developing countries. I think that would be another critical place to work, instead of just dumping in money that might simply be wasted.
I posted this basic idea to Steven's bulletin board, and others posted comments.
See also, on Steven:
Google, the desktop metaphor, and the future of computer interfaces.
Steven has a point: the Palestinians are badly led, or not led at all. This is a major problem. I still think Israel ought to take that into consideration more, but there's enough guilt to go around.
Friday, December 14
All except the 'Arwen' video, of course. Better to call it the Liv commercial. She will save him my eye. Bahh. I'm a purist. We didn't need this meddling. I hope we've got the option of choosing the real thing when the DVD comes out.
The way my mind works...
Wednesday, December 12
: Hi Sean, how's things?
: Here's a link I thought you might find interesting:
: An interview with Robert Ballard, discoverer of the Titanic
: "Around 1979, I began to question the utility of manned submarines and felt
: that we should shift to robotics. I took a sabbatical to Stanford and I
: began to design the Argo-Jason system--that was the first tele-operated
: robotic system. Ironically, my first test expedition was the Titanic. . . .
: Quite honestly, the Titanic was a cover for classified military purposes: to
: go inside the Thresher [a lost U.S. nuclear-powered submarine] and find the
: nuclear weapons that were on it. Little Jason Jr., which went inside the
: Titanic, was really designed to go inside the forward torpedo room of the
: Scorpion [another lost U.S. submarine], but they kept it under wraps."
I did find it interesting, so here it is.
[Many] terrible deeds...are committed as a result of Islamic teaching.
You might say 'Christian teaching, too.'. But not orthodox Christian teaching. Aberrant Christian teaching. Check out Islamic orthodoxy:
The brutal, dehumanizing treatment of women by the Taliban has been well-documented and internationally condemned. However, the abusive treatment of women in most Islamic countries is nearly as draconian and falls far short of the dignity, respect, and protection almost universally given to women and mandated by the United Nations.
The persecution or elimination of non-Muslims has been a cornerstone of Islamic conquests and rule for centuries. The Koran provides ample evidence that Islam encourages violence in order to win converts and to reach the ultimate goal of an Islamic world. Conversions from Islam to any other faith are often punishable by death.
One example is the treatment of non-Muslims by the Islamic government of Sudan. In the past year, our hospital in southern Sudan was bombed seven times by the Islamic regime in Khartoum. These bombings pale in comparison with the two million Christians and animists killed, and thousands more enslaved, by the regime in recent years.
In most countries where Islamic law dominates there is practically no freedom of religion (not to mention freedom of speech or the press). In most Islamic countries, including so-called moderate Islamic states such as Saudi Arabia, it is a crime to build a Christian church, Jewish synagogue, Hindu temple or any other non-Muslim house of worship. In contrast, there are about 3,000 mosques in the U.S., with new ones being built every week.
Muslims are free to worship Allah in the U.S., but Christians are not free to worship Jesus in most Muslim countries. There has not been a single church in Afghanistan since the exiled king, Mohammed Zahir Shah, destroyed the first and only one in the history of the country in 1973.
I think they said on 'The West Wing' that The Taliban is to Islam as the KKK is to Christianity. That is not true. Ask basically traditional Muslims around the world how far the Taliban is from their beliefs. I don't think it's going to be very far.
Tuesday, December 11
You are The Smiths: You were a peripheral player in the eighties, people thought it was cool to be your friend, but they never really wanted to spend time with you. Go watch Twin Peaks reruns.
Yeah, the Smiths rule. And I really liked 'Twin Peaks'. People did too want to spend time with me.
I can't tell you where I got this link because I'm the person's Secret Santa.
I don't agree with all of his conclusions, that these people were innocent victims of war, and so innocent in attacking him. But this is a powerful experience, and he tries to wrestle with its meaning.
the ironic thing about funerals is there's this great gathering to observe a loved one's life that that loved one would have really enjoyed. too bad we can't do such things more often prefuneral.
Friday, December 7
The Dark Knight Strikes Again
If you're as big a fan as I am, you will go and read everything.
How did this slip by me? Why didn't I see this before? I'm not into comics any more, but it's already on the streets and I don't have it?!? Must. remedy. immediately.
I mean, just look at the sketches. Wonder Woman. as amazon. with rope as hangman's noose. Frank Miller rules the world.
That wasn't near enough. So I went back to Daypop where I found it, and found a MetaFilter thread. That linked an Onion article. It talks about screenplays and a possible Batman: Year One script. It mentions 'Batman: The Animated Series' in Dark Knight style. Anyone know how to get a hold of such a thing?
OK, I think that about covers it for now.
Wednesday, December 5
Should we rule out use of nuclear weapons? Never. We sent a clear warning to Saddam before the Gulf War that if he used chemical or biological weapons against us we would retaliate in a way that, in the words of envoy Jim Baker, "would take Iraq 100 years to recover from." The implication of that threat was unmistakable. The same warning will have to be given again before we deal with Iraq this time around. The problem is that this time Saddam knows that the destruction of his regime is our prime war aim. In the Gulf War, he knew that we only intended to eject his troops from Kuwait.
I suspect that this time Saddam will be told by Israel that any imminent chemical, biological, or nuclear threat perceived by Israel may result in an Isreals first strike nuclear obliteration of Iraq or at least of those places in Iraq where such weapons are suspected to be located. Israel lacks the luxury of "defense-in-depth." It cannot absorb a first strike secure in its ability to survive and retaliate. I suspect that lights are burning late in Washington as these "next step" issues are pondered.
If I were a work of art, I would be Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa.
I am extremely popular and widely known. Although unassuming and unpretentious, my enigmatic smile has charmed millions. I am a mystery, able to be appreciated from afar, but ultimately unknowable and thus intriguing.
Which work of art would you be? The Art Test
How can you do better than that?
With just one little change, I could have been Piet Mondrian's Composition A.
I am rigidly organised and regimented, although my cold and unapproachable exterior hides a clever way of thinking and a rebellious and innovative nature. A lot of people don't understand me, but I can still affect them on an emotional level.
(By the way, if you're wondering, I found these tests on the Daypop top 40).
Exploring a little myself, I think Rivendell's too busy. I'd like less art and a more minimal approach, but that's just me.
Tuesday, December 4
kennings, including the top result for 'kennings today'
Major League Baseball Contraction (29th result)
'I protect those who come here.' (only result!)
opinion of Roy Lichtenstein (105th result (how'd someone get that far down?))
(note: this is my redaction of the article.)
'Israel launched the assault after one of the most deadly waves of Palestinian suicide bombings inside the Jewish state in years.'
'Israel began a second day of air strikes after the government's classification of Arafat's Palestinian Authority as a supporter of terrorism paved the way to harsher retaliation.'
'Making his first public comments since the Israeli offensive began on Monday, Arafat hit back at Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in an interview in the West Bank city of Ramallah. Arafat told CNN television: ``He doesn't want a peace process to start.'''
'The decision at a government meeting to attack, and brand the Palestinian Authority an organization which supports terror, prompted a walkout by Foreign Minister Shimon Peres' Labor Party which widened cracks in Sharon's broad coalition.'
Monday, December 3
Another complaint: It's really not about any 'New Jedi Order'. It's mostly about the same characters, with extra focus on the Solo kids.
I did like the focus on Anakin in this one. I suppose I'll read the next one. Like I said, I'm a sucker. It's really only a couple of hours of my life. This one was a lot less painful than many of the others.
Wait, one more thing: I didn't specifically mention how tired I am of the practically invulnerable Yuuzhan Vong. And now there are hints that's what going to bring them down, to some degree, is their own religious fundamentalism. Yawn.
Okay, one more thing (with no promises that this is the last): The review for the next book on Amazon actually says:
But even in the midst of despair, while the fiercest battle of all looms on the horizon, hope arises with the birth of one very special child....
Haven't we done this plot in Star Wars, like about 6 times before (Anakin 1/Darth, Luke, Leia, Jacen, Jaina, and Anakin 2)? Sheesh.
If my wife, Christine, were a character in The Lord of the Rings, she would be Galadriel, Elf, Queen of Lothlorien, wife of Celeborn and grandmother of Arwen.
In the movie, she is played by Cate Blanchett.
Galadriel and Faramir aren't ultimately matchable. He is far below her station, immeasureably far. That fits.
The most important characteristics of heavy bombers are, in order, range, accuracy, and bomb load.
No amount of technical intelligence gathering [Signal intelligence, or SigInt] can completely replace spies [Human Intelligence, or HumInt].
Sometimes coalitions and alliances are liabilities.
Aircraft carriers continue to be valuable.
Diplomacy can't solve some problems.
"Smart" munitions are worth what they cost.
So are "improved" munitions (e.g. cluster bombs).
Air power alone still cannot win a conventional war, though it can make it much easier.
Specialized weapons (e.g. C-130 gunships) can be very valuable. Not everything has to be multirole.
Aerial tankers and cargo planes are as important as combat aircraft.
Mobility is a force multiplier.
Training is a force multiplier.
Communications is also a force multiplier.
Now, Rob notes that Google might have prompted some of this, but i'm giving the props to Matt!
Anyway, the textad is a much preferred form to any other previously encountered.
Friday, November 30
Actually, now that I look at it, this page has a lot of links to potentially interesting information.
And if I need to, I'll use it!
That is all.
Software and computation are reinventing the civilized world —"rebooting civilization," in the words of David Gelernter. "It's a software-first world," notes Stanford AI expert Edward Feigenbaum, chief scientist of the U.S. Air Force in the mid-nineties. "It's not a mistake that the world's two richest men are pure software plays. Or that the most advanced fighter planes in the U.S. Air Force are bundles of software wrapped in aluminum shells, or that the most advanced bomber is run by computers and cannot be flown manually". Everybody in business today is in the software business. But what comes after software?
Physicist David Deutsch, a pioneer in the development of the quantum computer, points out that "the chances are that the technological implications of quantum computers, though large by some standards, are never going to be the really important thing about them. The really important thing is the philosophical implications, epistemological and metaphysical. The largest implication, from my point of view, is the one that we get right from the beginning, even before we build the first quantum computer, before we build the first cubit. The very theory of quantum computers already forces upon us a view of physical reality as a multiverse."
I don’t necessarily buy that this is true. Multi-reality might be true at the quantum level, but that doesn’t mean it has huge metaphysical implications. If it does, it might point toward multidimensionality instead, for example, the kind that's being discussed in string theory.
One aspect of our culture that is no longer open to question is that the most signigicant developments in the sciences today (i.e. the developments that affect the lives of everybody on the planet) are about, informed by, or implemented through advances in software and computation.
I don’t think that’s right. Biological comparisons are ofter more apt. We just happen to be in love with our creations. God's creation is a better model for understanding, with better depth, than what we have created.
As before, I find Jaron Lanier’s reflections on this topic to be most useful. While we have faster, bigger, cheaper computers in accordance with Moore’s Law, software has, in many ways, gotten worse, not least of all because we’re locked into bad standards – there’s strong persuasion for me to use MS Windows and Office because everyone else does and I know files will be compatible.
Jaron writes ‘One question to ask is, why does software suck so badly?’. He goes on:
To tie the circle back to the "Rebooting Civilization" question, what I'm hoping might happen is as we start to gain a better understanding of how enormously difficult, slow, expensive, tedious and rare an event it is to program a very large computer well; as soon as we have a sense and appreciation of that, I think we can overcome the sort of intoxication that overcomes us when we think about Moore's Law, and start to apply computation metaphors more soberly to both natural science and to metaphorical purposes for society and so forth. A well-appreciated computer that included the difficulty of making large software well could serve as a far more beneficial metaphor than the cartoon computer, which is based only on Moore's Law; all you have to do is make it fast and everything will suddenly work, and the computers-will-become-smarter than-us-if-you just-wait-for-20-years sort of metaphor that has been prevalent lately.
The really good computer simulations that do exist in biology and in other areas of science, and I've been part of a few that count, particularly in surgical prediction and simulation, and in certain neuroscience simulations, have been enormously expensive. It took 18 years and 5,000 patients to get the first surgical simulation to the point of testable usability. That is what software is, that's what computers are, and we should de-intoxicate ourselves from Moore's Law before continuing with the use of this metaphor.
If I were a character in The Lord of the Rings, I would be Faramir, Man of Gondor, the humble younger brother of Boromir.
In the movie, I am played by David Wenham.
That's cool, because I really like Faramir.
However, if memory serves, Faramir has darker hair and complexion, different from his brother in that regard. I would have cast him differently, looks-wise. We'll see about the portrayal in a year in 'The Two Towers'.
Wednesday, November 28
Did you know that someone photoshopped a picture of ObL to include a picture of mad Bert in the background that the major wire services picked up? And MeFi was one of the first places to break the story. (Before you sputter with disbelief that I didn't know this - I did. But if you didn't, it's worth a look.)
(Want my two cents worth on the debate? I guess most people like the mix of interesting links, a few of the serious, and personal stories. I like them. Fewer people like Steven's serious take. But I do.)
Tuesday, November 27
The self-parody thread is funny, but you have to be kind of experienced over there (it's kind of the new 1142). Plus, believe me, I didn't read the whole thing.
The MeFi community took on 123cheaphosting.com for stealing Matt's design. Some funny stuff.
Anyway, you get the idea.
i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
by e e cummings
i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it's you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you
here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart
i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)
Strangely, this doesn't mean I condone the violence. I'm very conflicted on this issue. But there you have it.
Monday, November 26
The title of the article is 'metafilter man'. How cool would that be on a one-of-a-kind tshirt for Matt?
Maybe there needs to be a 'metaflirter'. Interesting idea.The URL is available.
I found out last sunday that my maternal grandfather died the night before. So I hastily arranged stuff and flew out to Florida last monday. I got back saturday afternoon.
You probably chalked up the lack of posting to Thanksgiving, but there was more to it than that.
Monday, November 19
Friday, November 16
That sent me off to Google. There I found some pictures (the latter with the appropriate selection from Herodotus (so here's another map relative to Herodotus' history) and a tourist map (the canal was apparently dug near Nea Roda (thinnest part of the more eastern peninsula)). If you haven't got the idea yet, or need to brush up on your history, here's a summary of the The Persian Wars. Finally, just to be complete, and give Google its due, here's another history with a less-detailed map.
(I'm going to post this on MetaFilter, too, so if you're curious, you can check it for comments.)
The real problem here is owners who are in it for the business and not for the fun and to win. Are there any guidelines MLB could enact to help with this problem?
Thursday, November 15
Wednesday, November 14
I like his ironic pop art best. I interpret it as subversion. Here's an example (there are lots more choices at that site, too.).
Does anybody look at this art stuff I put up? Oh well...
I failed to notice I'm getting fewer referrals from Robot Wisdom. Jorn took the sites that support Israeli divestment off the top. There you have it. Oh well, it was fun while it lasted. Thanks, Jorn.
Tuesday, November 13
(By the way, Matt McCoy, who threw the lateral mentioned in the article, goes to our church. It's a fun connection. Matt had an interception a couple of weeks ago, too.)
Update: Steven discusses guerilla warfare. In short, the way to fight it is not fight it. You stop supplies and starve them out and stay ready to defend. If you try to go root them out, they'll eat your lunch.
Monday, November 12
While I was at Neil's, I came across a fansite for Terry Gilliam. I really like his movies, especially '12 Monkeys' and 'The Fisher King'. I accidentally, but happily, watched these two on consecutive nights. The theme of insanity is so strong in these movies and almost all of Gilliam's other work - what is insanity? and when is it more sane to be insane than sane? Very provocative.
As usual, Steven also has a lot of very lucid war commentary, including his opinion that bin Laden's claim to have nuclear weapons is a bluff.
unlatched his word-hoard.' (Grendel Attacks about 2/3 down or Edit/Find on Page). Anyway, here's the selected, classic stuff.
What are Kennings?
Kennings are an old Norse poetic device based on the analogy. They're similar to Homeric epithets. Where the Greeks might say "the wine-dark sea" in their epic poetry, the Norse would say "whale road." This of course comes from the analogy "sea is to whale as road is to horse" or something like it. To use the standard shorthand, this becomes
sea : whale :: road : horse
You can also diagram it as
----- :: ------
The key to the Kenning Game is realising that such an analogy provides four kennings possible (or at least permissible). In this case, we have
sea = whale road
whale = sea horse
road = horse sea
horse = road whale
You get these kennings by going "vertically" then "diagonally" from the word in question in Figure 2. With a valid analogy, you can always get a kenning by going vertically then diagonally. Try it and see.
Some of these seem a little strange, but we might make sense of them by positing that "road whale" for "horse" is the product of a culture of aquatic intelligent beings that ride whales the way we ride horses. Some kennings do come out strangely, but one thing we are after in art is the novel viewpoint.
sun : moon :: gold : silver
sun = gold moon
moon = silver sun
gold = sun silver
silver = moon gold
Friday, November 9
(I've got to say, he also links to a letter from Satan which is well-intended by a Christian to provide an alternate perspective on Christianity, ie, from Satan's point of view. You may think it's in poor taste, but it is a fair statement of classical Christianity's view of Satan. CS Lewis, who was a great writer, did something similar with 'The Screwtape Letters'. I imagine Jason thinks this is a gas (and the music is corny), but I think it's largely based on correct theology, though mayb a little hokey.)
Hugh Ross is a physicist who says it's actually not surprising that there aren't any other life-bearing planets in the universe, not to mention civilizations. Design Evidences in the Cosmos. Design Evidences for Life Support.
Wednesday, November 7
Interesting story of The Phantom Edit.
The author writes:
While it advances the story faster, the film obviously cares for its characters even less than before.
This isn't true, strictly speaking. The editor had only so much footage to work with. S/he may be very interested in character, but just not have the material to work with.
More than anything, "The Phantom Edit" magnifies problems that can't be fixed with clever editing: too many bland, uninvolving characters (the stoic Jedis, the stoic Princess Amidala, way too many digital characters), too few scenes with Darth Maul, no renegade comic relief à la Han Solo, and a typically confusing final battle that takes place in about 13 different locations at once.
What can I say? Right. But I still love the Star Wars universe. I don't have to let it go, yet.
I finally got through on the 'Breathing' trailer I posted yesterday. It was cool. All of those things will probably still be wrong. But it's Star Wars. Most of all, I love the Jedi concept. I love thinking about other races of beings and space travel. I like the heroic subplot.
But some of the execution, some of the characterization, most of the dialogue comes up short.
Tuesday, November 6
But, their interface is too busy. And I've noticed they've added a Target tab. And now they have an ugly 'Look Inside!' icon.
By the way, I checked her Booker Prize winning novel, 'The God of Small Things' out from the library. I read the first chapter and a half and it didn't grab me. I doubt I'll go back to it. I'm not in the mood to persevere. Her writing is self-indulgent, 'precious', though I agree many of her values.
Monday, November 5
Friday, November 2
lately things don't seem the same,
actin' funny but I don't know why
I know why: lots of ganja.
(By the way, when I debated a little my freshman year of high school there was a Jimmy Hendrix paradigm that if you couldn't understand the words of the debater then they didn't count for anything. Hmm.)
Wednesday, October 31
He noted that today is John Keats' birthday. SELECTED POETRY OF JOHN KEATS (1795-1821).
And, since everyone needs more poetry, here's a particular selection, seasonally appropriate, and ode to my favorite season. (Incidentally, we did an AP practice essay on this poem in high school and I got marked down because I didn't write about how autumn can be compared to aging people. Maybe he was thinking about that, since he died young of TB, like his mother and sister before him. Oh well, it's still a great poem.)
1 Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
2 Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
3 Conspiring with him how to load and bless
4 With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
5 To bend with apples the moss'd cottage-trees,
6 And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
7 To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
8 With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
9 And still more, later flowers for the bees,
10 Until they think warm days will never cease,
11 For Summer has o'er-brimm'd their clammy cells.
12 Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
13 Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
14 Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
15 Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
16 Or on a half-reap'd furrow sound asleep,
17 Drows'd with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
18 Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers:
19 And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
20 Steady thy laden head across a brook;
21 Or by a cyder-press, with patient look,
22 Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.
23 Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
24 Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,--
25 While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
26 And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
27 Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
28 Among the river sallows, borne aloft
29 Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
30 And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
31 Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
32 The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft;
33 And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.
Today is also Reformation Day, the anniversary of Martin Luther nailing the 95 Theses to the door of the Wittenberg Church in 1517. He was largely criticizing the practice of selling indulgences. He didn't intend to split with the church. He left room for the Pope to slip out of the indulgences corruption. But the Pope didn't, and the split eventually came.
The first thesis:
Our Lord and Master Jesus Christ willed that the whole life of believers should be repentance.
I think he was right. Repentance is not something we do once or 3000 times as much as it is how we are to live before God. Another way to describe this is humility.
Finally, Kiellor read WH Auden's Musée des Beaux Arts. Wonderful. The thing I like about Auden is that he uses normal language and events and lives, but still talks about important ideas, interacting with art like, in this case, 'Brueghel’s Icarus'.
Tuesday, October 30
Monday, October 29
More expansively, I really agree with Steven that the military needs to be focused on training personnel, much more so than on capital acquisition, as I've said before.
From research I've done before on the new destroyers, I think they're budgetting for one at a time, budgetting one per year, or something like that.
Does the fbi have a file on you? The new contest/meme:
am i fbi or not?
Sunday, October 28
Friday, October 26
$317.5 billion total
$7.9 billion for Missile Defense, an increase of $2.7 billion over the fiscal year 2001 appropriated amount. (now included under the new heading 'Counter-Terrorism and Weapons of Mass Destruction')
$18.3 billion – for the Defense Health Program, providing a 50 percent increase in funding over fiscal year 2001 levels (this is probably money well spent - take care of personnel.)
$2.8 billion for the procurement of 15 C-17 airlifters and adds $180 million over the budget to support a follow-on multi-year procurement of C-17s.
$10.1 billion for Navy shipbuilding
PROCUREMENT: $61.4 Billion - $936.8 million for 11 V-22 aircraft (Osprey - I, for one, am glad, simply from a technology point of view, that the Osprey is going to get a chance.), $3 billion for 48 F/A-18E/F fighter aircraft.
RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT: $47.7 Billion, including $1.5 billion for the Joint Strike Fighter.
You're a smart cookie (that's why you read "interact', right?). What conclusions do you draw from these figures?
Thursday, October 25
Wednesday, October 24
Without being a scholar or having officially studied him, his figures speak existentialism to me - we live, as we dream, alone. We are separated from one another. We are fragile, negligible objects in this world. Don't miss his 'City Square'.
On a totally different scale, I really like Paul Granlund's sculptures. The largest concentration appear at Gustavus-Adolphus College, where Granlund was sculptor in residence and still has his studio. His Dancing Francis is very famous, and we now have a copy of it at Wartburg College, where Christine and I attended.
There is such grandeur in India and so much beauty. I don't know whether they can kill it. I want to think they can't. I don't think that there is anything as beautiful as a sari. Can you kill it? Can you corporatize a sari? Why should multinationals be allowed to come in and try to patent basmati rice? People prefer to eat roti and idlis and dosas rather than McDonald's burgers. Just before I came to the U.S., I went to a market in Delhi. There was a whole plate of different kinds of dal, lentils. Tears came to my eyes. Today, that's all it takes to make you cry, to look at all the kinds of dal and rice that there are, and to think that they don't want this to exist.
I hate to be the deflater, but, yes, you can corporatize a sari. You can make it into chic fashion in the States. And that could happen any day now. Fashion co-opts tradition and individuality all the time.
I can't be a part of the large convoy because it's not a choice that you can make. The fact that I'm an educated person means that I can't be on that convoy. I don't want to be on it. I don't want to be a victim. I don't want to disappear into the darkness. I am an artist and a writer, and I do think that one always places oneself in the picture to see where one fits. I left home when I was sixteen and lived in places where it was very easy for me to have fallen the other way. I could have been on the large convoy because I was a woman and I was alone. In India, that's not a joke. I could have ended up very, very badly. I'm lucky that I didn't.
I think my eyes were knocked open and they don't close. I sometimes wish I could close them and look away. I don't always want to be doing this kind of work. I don't want to be haunted by it. Because of who I am and what place I have now in India, I'm petitioned all the time to get involved. It's exhausting and very difficult to have to say, 'Look, I'm only one person. I can't do everything.' I know that I don't want to be worn to the bone where I lose my sense of humor. But once you've seen certain things, you can't un-see them, and seeing nothing is as political an act as seeing something.
(Oh yeah, I got to this via some stuff at Debater's Corner.)
Tuesday, October 23
There are a lot of civilian deaths and collateral damage. What do we think about this? Is it acceptable? Will it create more terrorists and further ill-will toward the US in the Middle East and around the world?
How do we feel about the refugees that are being displaced? Do we want to help them and the countries that might receive them? How?
Never, ever, forget The Law of Unintended Consequences. What might they be in this case?
What kind of government will come into being in the wake of the Taliban? It's hard to believe it would be worse, but will it be better? Will we contribute to a better government? How?
The Taliban has been fighting opium production. Will it go up as they are weakened? Is that okay? Will we address that?
How do we plan on addressing Islamic fundamentalist terrorist support in Egypt, Pakistan, Iran, and Iraq?
What should our relationship be with Pakistan? If they will join us in the fight, are they our friend?
What other countries are we cozying up to in coalition-building? Is it okay, for example, for Russia to have a free hand in Chechnya if they will support us?
How do we view Afghanistan's already-oppressed civilian population? Do we want to make any plans to help them? Do we have any?
There are more questions, but these are a start. This situation is extremely complex
I think their many of their views are absolutely crazy. To wit:
What ideas have undercut America? Politically, America's policy is one of appeasement, which emboldens our enemies. We occasionally half-heartedly bomb individual terrorists, but we negotiate with and leave unharmed the countries that perpetrate the attacks. Our leaders have been taught in college that pragmatism—the abandonment of a principled stand—is practical. Morally, America has been disarmed by altruism, the idea that sacrifice for the sake of others is the moral ideal. Our leaders think it is wrong to defend, by whatever force is necessary, America's self-interest. And the moral relativism and egalitarianism flowing from our universities causes our leaders to identify our enemies simply as men who have different but equally valid values. Our enemies are not seen as the evil they are.
I conclude that these people would have us unilaterally attack countries we view as terrorist. They are anti-altruism, which I think is wrong, not to mention nonChristian (which they would also be, of course). I 'think it is wrong to defend, by whatever force necessary, our self-interest', so I guess I could be one of our leaders. What of the times when our self-interest impinges on the self-interest of others (not terrorists, as in some part of this case) say, Afghani civilians. Terrorists are evil. This justification, though, could give unlimited rationalization-ability to anyone in leadership. I don't want that, do you?
I loved 'Microserfs'. 'Girlfriend in a Coma' was weird. His latest book, 'All Families Are Psychotic', sounds even weirder. I'm not planning on reading it.
He's got great titles, though.
Should U.S. financiers whose trading adversely affects Chinese “red-chip” companies be assassinated? Should Beijing covertly fund political-influence operations in the United States?
Facing a potentially huge nuclear-weapons buildup as well as an even bigger high-tech conventional-arms race to reach parity with the United States and Russia, members of the echelon of senior colonels who will be among tomorrow’s PLA flag officers are looking beyond the nuclear age to a new and more stealthy form of war.”
The book is part of a larger effort within the PLA to develop a means of challenging the United States through “asymmetry” — not by trying to match the United States missile for missile, but by turning the strength of China’s adversaries against themselves as a judo artist subdues a larger, stronger foe. “Understanding and employing the principle of asymmetry correctly allows us always to find and exploit an enemy’s soft spots."
“Hacking into Websites, targeting financial institutions, terrorism, using the media and conducting urban warfare are among the methods proposed...The first rule of unrestricted warfare is that there are no rules, with nothing forbidden.”
You might want to read the rest of the article (via Robot Wisdom).
This is scary stuff. It's the logical conclusion of where the world has been heading, but it's still very scary. How about this critique of the US military:
The Americans have not been able to get their act together in this area. This is because proposing a new concept of weapons does not require relying on the springboard of new technology, it just demands lucid and incisive thinking. However, this is not a strong point of the Americans, who are slaves to technology in their thinking.
I'll send this stuff to Steven, the expert among my friends, and see what he thinks.
I AM 32% GEEK.
I probably work in computers, or a history
department at a college. I never really
fit in with the "normal" crowd. But I have
friends, and this is a good thing.
Found this at the always-enjoyable Daypop Top 40
And, by the way, no, that doesn't look like me. I haven't yet gone to the full beard for winter from the summer goat[ee], my head is buzzed, I don't usually wear my glasses, and I'm a lot better looking than that guy (It's true. Ask my wife!).
Monday, October 22
(Debater's Corner is a division of Hobbsblog 2, Inc.)
Anyway, the Vikings played stud yesterday, and I can't believe it. I have a deep suspicion that it was not their defense that beat the Packers but that somehow the Packers didn't execute on offense, and, in addition, we finally did execute on offense.
Further NFL reflections:
This parity thing (read: salary cap) is crazy. Winners lose and losers win. Not that I don't like it. I think parity and the salary cap and revenue sharing is a pretty good thing. The problem is that players will jump ship so quickly for more money. Then teams don't build teamwork that extends past a year. They're constantly retooling, which is contributes to parity. I think the athletes, many of them, are keeping score with money. They don't need the money, but they want the respect the money represents. I can understand that. But I think it's a bad basis for decision making, and it seriously degrades the game. It's a symptom of real lack of character in our society as a whole. Thus, I'm trying to patronize the NFL (and other professional and monied sports) less.
Mike Martz is a mad genius. Who else practices a downfield lateral on an inside reverse? He also has incredible players. On top of that, I'm a huge Kurt Warner fan: he's from Iowa, he's got piles of character, and the dude can flat play.